Article 5455 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Featuring Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
What it is: Dystopian satire
In a Dystopia overrun with bureaucracy, a clerical error causes the death of an innocent man, and a day-dreaming clerk gets caught up in the fallout from the event, and an encounter with the girl of his dreams only makes things worse.
If I would pick the one film in my life that I had the greatest eagerness and anticipation to see, it would be this, Terry Gilliam’s follow-up to TIME BANDITS. It ended up being a long wait; Universal loathed the film and refused to release it for the longest time, and this simply whetted my appetite. I once read that Gilliam considered this movie the middle section of an informal trilogy along with the earlier TIME BANDITS and the later THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN; the former was about childhood, the latter about old age, and this one was about adulthood. In it, Gilliam envisions two bizarre worlds – the quirky and ominous real world of the movie, and the protagonist’s fantasy world where he plays a flying hero doing battle with a giant samurai. It’s Gilliam’s version of 1984, and quite frankly, I’d rather watch it than any version of that movie, if for no other reason that it is infused with the Pythonesque humor I love so much and an eye-catching visual splendor. Still, I must admit that I never watched it as frequently as I do TIME BANDITS or his work with Monty Python; in fact, this is only the third time I’ve seen it. However, for first time viewers, I urge them to avoid like the plague the bowdlerized commercial TV version that I caught, in which Universal tried to leave the viewer with the impression that the movie had a “happy” ending. Personally, I think the original ending could be considered the only honest happy ending that, given the circumstances, the movie could have had.